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All In It Together: Dr. Dog kicks off night one in its nightclub-sized living room

Dr. Dog | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com
Dr. Dog | Photo by Laura Jane Brubaker | laurajanebrubaker.tumblr.com

Only Dr. Dog could play for a sold-out crowd of 3500 fans and make it feel as cozy as a living room show. Kicking off a two-night stand at the Electric Factory last night, the band blew through a 23-song set showcasing its fine new outing B-Room - the band’s eighth – while also skipping across what bassist Toby Leaman called “the proverbial vaults.”  Moreover, there was a comfort level in the air that usually dissipates for artists the larger the venues get and the longer they perform. But for these Philly rock and roll stalwarts, the hometown show still feels like home.

There were the Philly friends they brought onstage – Rob Berliner of Hoots and Hellmouth, who sat in on keys for “Love,” and an unidentified woman who strummed the acoustic guitar part on their cover of “Heart it Races” by Architecture in Helsinki (a cover that, impressively, has surpassed the original in recognizablility). Leaman sent “Nellie” out to his wife Sarah and their baby daughter, before joking that he’d also like to dedicate “Shadow People” to “my beautiful baby Scott McMicken. Look at him, he’s walking now! It’s amazing.” Scott responded by hobbling around his mic, toddler style, before kicking into the song’s instantly recognizable opening chords and opening up a sea of voices.

That’s the other thing – the singalong / clapalong rapport these guys Dr. Dog has developed over time. Fans might not necessarily think about it while listening to the albums, but they somewhere subconsciously know all the words to “Jackie Wants a Black Eye” or “Ain’t It Strange” or “The Rabbit, The Bat and The Reindeer,” and quite likely sang themselves hoarse last night. At least I did anyway.

While the set wasn’t without imperfections – a guitar lead that went awry in “Oh No,” scattered vocal pitchiness on “Love” – those imperfections just reinforced that Dr. Dog is a real and approachable band of everyday people, in addition to being a band with an outstanding live energy.

Other observations:

“Too Weak To Ramble,” Leaman’s solo acoustic sad-man ballad on B-Room, was fleshed out into a soulful full-band gospel jam.

There was an instrumental number mid-set that might be the deepest of deep jams for these guys, or it might be a cover; it sounded like Stan Getz. They also dusted off their debut Toothbrush EP for an outstanding “Jealous Man.” (UPDATE: per Eric Slick and commenters below and on Facebook, the instrumental was also from Toothbrush. It’s called “Say Ahhh.” And I still say sounded like Stan Getz. -JV)

A great McMicken quote after the rousing “don’t give it up” coda of “My Friend” – “Every band should build a part into a song where they rock super hard on an E chord. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

Per Instagram’s geotag, some dude in the crowd got butt naked for reasons unclear.

Leaman dove into the crowd at the end of the main set, hugged fans and raced along the barricade hi-fiving those in the front row – again, making the Electric Factory feel like a house party. Dr. Dog returns to its stage tonight for a second sold out show.

Lancaster County wavemakers The Districts played a very well-received opening set, hitting on their just-released self-titled EP (out on Fat Possum on Tuesday) as well as a few other scattered cuts – some new, some old. “Funeral Beds” sounded remarkable, the closing “Young Blood” – the epic number that wrapped up their XPoNential Music Festival set – was raging, and the guys seemed very much at home on the Electric Factory stage. Hopefully it won’t be too long till we see them there again.

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Tonight’s Concert Picks: Brazilian Girls at Underground Arts, Eleni Mandell at Union Transfer, Arctic Splash at Kung Fu Necktie and more

Photo by Michael Weintrob, Courtesy of facebook.com/braziliangirls
Photo by Michael Weintrob, Courtesy of facebook.com/braziliangirls
New York-based electric dance band Brazilian Girls play tonight at Underground Arts. The band’s fans are anxiously awaiting the release of its newest album – it’s acclaimed New York City came out six years ago. After taking a brief hiatus, Brazilian Girls are currently touring the East Coast and making a stop in Montreal. The 21+ show will start at 8 p.m. Purchase tickets here and check out the band’s video for “Don’t Stop” below.

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Watch Dr. Dog’s new music video for “Distant Light”

Photo by Nicky Devine
Photo by Nicky Devine

For the second time in recent months, the members of Dr. Dog get cozy with cereal in a music video in today’s just-released clip for “Distant Light.” (See also: Eric Slick’s surreal vision quest in the “Release” video). The band plays The Electric Factory twice this weekend: Saturday’s show with Saint Rich is sold out, but tickets still remain for Friday night’s show with The Districts. More info at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Watch Dr. Dog perform “The Truth” for Out of Town Films

Photo by Nicky Devine
Photo by Nicky Devine

In the new video from Out of Town Films featuring Dr. Dog, the local videographers sat down with Scott McMicken and his bandmates to talk about clip’s featured song.  ”The Truth,” taken from the band’s new B Room LP, is one of the more contemplative and slow-paced songs on the record, as well as one of the oldest songs (McMicken says he wrote it about three or four years ago).  Watch the latest collaboration Dr. Dog and OOTF below.  Dr. Dog plays two nights at the Electric Factory this weekend; tickets and information can be found here.

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The Districts gain more recognition before embarking on tour

Photo by Eric Ashleigh
Photo by Eric Ashleigh

Philadelphia’s own The Districts are only four days away from releasing their self-titled EP after signing on with Fat Possum Records this past November. The label is famous for supporting other indie-rockers like The Black Keys, Youth Lagoon, Tennis and many more.

Yesterday, Rolling Stone gave The Districts a little recognition and allowed audiences a peak into the the full EP.

Songs “Lyla,” “Funeral Beds” and “Long Distance” are nothing new to the band’s fans since the tunes are remastered off of an earlier self-released album. However, the two newest songs, “Rocking Chair” and “Stay Open” offer two different, but welcome feels to the EP.

“Rocking Chair” is the kind of song a sea of indie-rockers could jump up and down to, with its in-your-face build ups and catchy lyrics. “Stay Open” is slower-paced for the band, but still true to The Districts’ sound.

The Districts are about to embark on its first national tour with White Denim in February, but before that, they’re playing a free release show in-store on Jan. 28 at A.K.A Music. Just a few days later, The Districts will be joining other Philly natives Dr. Dog as the band’s opening act at The Electric Factory on Jan. 31.

Listen to The Districts’ self-titled EP here, and stream “Funeral Beds” below.

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My Morning Download: Dr. Dog and Saint Rich record each other’s songs, release a commemorative tour EP

DrDogSaintRich Dr. Dog and Saint Rich start a tour together on January 25th in New York and are on the road together through March. WXPN Welcomes Dr. Dog for two shows at the Electric Factory on January 31st and February 1st; Saint Rich is opening the second show and The Districts are opening the first show.

To commemorate the tour, Dr. Dog and Saint Rich have joined digital forces to release the Dr. Dog & Saint Rich Casual Free Fall Tour EP for free on NoiseTrade. The EP includes exclusive tracks of each band covering a song from the other. Dr. Dog covers Saint Rich’s “Dreams” and Saint Rich offers their take on Dr. Dog’s “Rock & Roll.” There is also a song from each band’s most recent album. On their cover of “Dreams,” Dr. Dog turn up the grooves on the rhythm and add some tasty Allman Brothers-like duel guitar lines into the mix.

Support for My Morning Download, from Flying Fish Brewing Company
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The Best of Philly Music 2013

Photo by Abi Reimold
Photo by Abi Reimold

In September 2010, we started The Key because we wanted to offer the local music scene another platform to reach more audiences. We also started it because starting in the early aughts we noticed something happening here creatively amongst the local music scene that was hadn’t felt in a while – it was growing creatively and the buzz about how good the local scene was becoming more significant.

More new bands were starting than ever before, more music was becoming available for fans and more musicians were looking for ways to connect to fans. To me, the last five years of “the scene” reminds me a lot of the Philly music scene in the mid-Eighties to early Nineties when bands like Electric Love Muffin, Three Times Dope, The Wishniaks, Nixon’s Head, the Goats, the Dead Milkmen, Schoolly D, The Low Road, The Hooters, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, and Tommy Conwell all represented for Philly on both local and international stages. We thought Philly 2012 was a banner year for the local music scene. Guess what? 2013 was even better. Here are some of the best things about the Philly music scene in 2013.

Dr. Dog made their best album yet, B-Room.

Man Man made their best record yet, On Oni Pond.

The Districts signed with Fat Possum. Look for an EP with a couple of old songs and new tunes on January 26th.
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The Kalob Griffin Band will bring new tunes and holiday vibes to World Cafe Live tomorrow

Via facebook.com/kalobgriffinband

Each musical genre in this city boasts its own community. It’s why creativity breeds, why collaboration is inevitable and how fans know which venues or bars to go to in order to see a show they’ll enjoy.

But there’s something a little more notable, a little more special, about the roots rock revival that’s going on in Philly, and the bands that are at the forefront. It’s bands like Toy Soldiers, The Districts and of course Dr. Dog that have reminded local fans about the advantages of good ol’ Americana — and how the genre can make hands clap and toes tap unlike anything else.

The rise of The Kalob Griffin Band is another key manifestation of this, as the band has made quite splash into the local scene since moving to Philly from State College, Pa. They cultivated a loyal local following, deemed “The KGB Family,” and hope to top last year’s 500-person turn out when they play their “4th annual Holiday Extravaganza” on Saturday at World Café Live with support from The McLovins and Dirty Dollhouse Special.

The show will undoubtedly feature one or all of the three new tracks The Kalob Griffin is poised to release some time in late January 2014. Recorded by Bill Moriarty (Dr. Dog, Man Man) and mastered by Greg Calbi of Sterling Sound (Bruce Springsteen, Gov’t Mule, Trey Anastasio, Alabama Shakes) the songs bring the tenacity and twang that live audiences have come to love from the band, but on a whole new level of songwriting and production quality.

“Full Love” is a fast-paced, hoedown-like groove that will be sure to get people dancing. “Bugle Boy Tobacco” starts with the sound of train tracks and the wailing of a harmonica before launching into an upbeat ballad about a boy who “didn’t have to look too hard, because trouble was after me,” and features a groovin’ instrumental breakdown.

But the standout track of the three would be “Fire and Time,” a love song featuring guest vocals from soulful, folksy songstress Ali Wadsworth, who recently released her own solo album. It’s a killer collaboration between long-time scene friends. Listen to two of the songs below, and click here to download a digital package with these two new KGB tracks.

The Kalob Griffin Band will play at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 21 at World Cafe Live. Tickets can be found here.

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Celebrate the holidays with Philly’s Dr. Dog and the Oh My Christmas Tree EP

drdog_epWith their fall tour supporting The Lumineers a wrap, Dr. Dog are back home in Philly for the holidays before embarking on a big 2014 tour in support of this year’s B-Room. Perhaps they’re feeling a bit celebratory about it, since the band is releasing a digital holiday EP tomorrow via their label, Anti- Records. Called Oh My Christmas Tree, it’s a collection of lo-fi Christmas originals songwriter Scott McMicken originally intended for family and friends, but decided to bring to a broader audience. It’s streaming today via Slate, and McMicken writes that while the songs are poppy and playful on the surface, as is the case with Dr. Dog’s best songs, there’s a flipside:

Christmas music can be so playful and fantastical but it can also be very melancholy and foreboding. To me thats the best. The spirit can guide you to balance and the spirit can be found anywhere you choose to look. In the cartoons and in the cold blood. In the wild imagination and in the strictest tradition. These four songs will ultimately live as that reminder for me and hopefully they serve you in some way too.

Listen to Oh My Christmas Tree here. Dr. Dog headlines the Electric Factory on January 31st and February 1st; tickets and information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar.

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Watch Dr. Dog perform “Distant Light” for Out of Town Films (playing the Electric Factory on 1/31 and 2/1)

Photo by Nicky Devine
Photo by Nicky Devine

Out of Town Films have shared a third video with Dr. Dog, this time featuring B-Room track “Distant Light.”  The clip was filmed in the Philly band’s Clifton Heights studio, which used to be a silversmith’s warehouse before they repurposed the space into a recording studio and practice space.  Check out the energizing performance of “Distant Light” below and revisit the first two videos here.  XPN welcomes Dr. Dog to the Electric Factory with Saint Rich on January 31st and February 1st; tickets and information can be found here.